The images of the powerful tornado that ripped through Oklahoma this afternoon and its aftermath are horrifying, but none are more heartbreaking than those of the two schools that were in its path. Rescuers are currently searching through the rubble now, and the number of deaths there and elsewhere throughout the state continues to rise.

According to reports, both Plaza Towers Elementary School and Briarwood Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma, were hit ... and hit hard, with the buildings' roofs being ripped right off. While several children have been pulled from the rubble alive, it's unknown how many teachers and students were in the building at the time ... and where many of them are now.

CNN reports that at this time, at least 51 people -- including 20 from Plaza Towers Elementary School -- were killed. We can only hope that number doesn't grow.

Reports say heroic teachers covered the children's bodies with their own to protect them, but in some cases, it wasn't enough against the storm's power. Understandably hysterical parents are said to be converging around the rubble. Search and rescue efforts will continue throughout the night, as these parents wait.

As a parent, the first thing I think of when storm clouds start moving in is how long it would take me to get to my kids at school. What if disaster strikes while they're there, away from me. I imagine how terrified they would be, and how I couldn't comfort them, and I'm sure every parent with a child at those schools has imagined such a scenario before too. Today it became their reality.

To them our hearts go out. For them we pray.

Have your children ever been at school when a natural disaster has struck?

 

Image via YouTube